Paper: General Studies Paper-I
Section: Indian Culture
Topic: Indian Culture from Ancient times to modern times
Contribution of British rule to Indian Architecture.
By the end of 19th century, English design reformers had already mastered the classical and medieval styles of Europe’s past. As the individual architect, they decided to adopt some aspects of the native traditions of their colonies and hence the so-called ‘Free-Style’ was produced, which was hybrid, but non-historicist.
On the other hand, the hybrid aspect of the style Scott devised for Bombay, though still essentially foreign and historicist was a crucial pointer for Anglo-Indian public builders, away from a narrow cultural chauvinism towards Indian traditions. To that extent, it was reformative. However, the synthesis that the Anglo-Indians were to evolve, far from rejecting overt allusion to the monumental styles of the past, added a resounding new dimension to historicist eclecticism in a truly imperial style, which reached its apotheosis in New Delhi.
Reformative architecture in Bombay: Sir Bartle Frere launched a public building campaign in Bombay in the second half of the 1860s. The campaign opened with the Decorated Gothic scheme for the rebuilding of St Thomas’ Cathedral by the government architect, James Trubshawe. This was only partially realized, but Trubshawe made a weighty contribution, in collaboration with W. Paris, in the General Post and Telegraph Office of 1872.
Among other landmarks produced by the campaign is, William Emerson’s Crawford Markets- in an elementary northern Gothic delineated in the various coloured stones, which contributed so much to the success of the Gothic Revival in Bombay- reflected the ideals of the early design reformers at home, more nearly than any other prominent Anglo-Indian building of the period.
Reformative architecture at Calcutta, Madras and other cities: While the attention of Scott and his Bombay followers was focused on Venice, the government architect Walter Granville ruptured the classical decorum of Calcutta, with an excursion into the arena favoured by Street at home, and based his High Court (1872) on the Cloth Hall at Ypres. Before the decade was out, he showed his versatility- at turning a corner- in the splendid General Post Office, which, if Classical in the purity of its forms, is certainly Baroque in scale and movement. For the Victoria Memorial at the other end of the Maidan, William Emerson embarked upon a quixotic attempt to rival the Taj Mahal. Lutyens and his works: Lutyens had arrived in India to undertake this great work with scant respect for the Sub-continent’s architectural legacy, and his views grew only the more derogatory with first-hand familiarity– not only with the Anglo-Indian Imperial hybrids developed by his immediate predecessors, but also with the traditions of ‘veneered joinery’, from which those hybrids were drawn. The Victoria Memorial in Calcutta is the most effective symbolism of British Empire, built as a monument in tribute to Queen Victoria’s reign. The plan of the building consists of one large central part, covered with a larger dome. Colonnades separate the two chambers. Each corner holds a smaller dome and is floored with marble plinth. The memorial stands on 26 hectares of garden surrounded by reflective pools.
Architecture of Princely homes and palaces: On a still larger and often even coarser scale, native rulers adopted western palace types in whole or in part, with state rooms incorporating antechambers, salons, banquet halls, and vast saloon-like durbar halls, designed to cater for westernized manners and European guests. It was certainly not lost upon the ‘Model Prince’ that European building types could be interpreted in a wide diversity of western, eastern, and hybrid styles, and at their service the fecundity of the Anglo-Indian imagination was to know no bounds. Notable examples of princely residences in styles derived from the repertory of Italianate Classicism range from the ‘Palladian’ Falaknuma of Hyderabad, taken over from a nobleman, and expanded by the Nizam in the last decades of the century- which belongs to the type represented by Government House Triplicane- to the Neo-High Renaissance palace of Cooch Behar and the Neo- Baroque one at Panna.
Role of Bhakti movement in transforming the character of Vedic Hinduism.
The Bhakti Movement had introduced the cult of Bhakti as the means of salvation and reduced the importance of the ritual of Vedic sacrifices. The Bhakti saints condemned ritualism, false practices, blind faiths and dogmas. To them, rituals and sacrifices were meaningless.
Bhakti movement centred round monotheism or the worship of one God. To them Ram and Rahim, Ishwar and Allah were different names of one God that is the Supreme Being. In other words, they emphasized upon the unity of God.
Bhakti movement advocated the need of a preceptor or guru who would guide the devotee to this ultimate goal. A true guru was the main source to attain God. He alone could show the path of light to reach the proper destination. A guru could lead the devotee from the material world to the spiritual world.
Equality of men or universal brotherhood was another cardinal philosophy of the Bhakti cult. As a matter of fact Bhakti movement had raised its voice against racial discrimination, caste hierarchy and such social differentiations. It was believed that all creations of God were equal and hence, all men should be treated equally.
Thus, the Bhakti Movement played a significant role in transforming the character of Vedic Hinduism.